The latest Democratic tactic in the presidential election seems to be to accuse President Trump of completely bungling the coronavirus pandemic. This returns to a former theme and implies a reluctant acknowledgment that it may not be possible to maintain or revive an economic shutdown so severe that it enables the Democrats to blame Trump for an economic depression.
With the full connivance of the Trump-hating media, which is in fact conducting the Biden campaign in the merciful absence of the candidate, the pandemic disaster theory is regularly supplemented by a barrage of polls showing absurd leads for Biden. The object now is to soften the public into believing that somehow Trump horribly mismanaged the pandemic, is still President Chaos, and as polling confirms, is heading for the last round-up anyway. He was an aberration and the nightmare is ending. Dream on.
Given their original dismissal of him as unserious, and then as a dangerous incompetent, then as a traitor, and ultimately as a criminal who should be removed from office (for non-criminal and in fact legal acts), this is a rather bland argument as the parties drive for the finish line.
The whole argument is nonsense. Trump responded promptly to the virus, shut down direct air access from China on Jan. 31, and was accused of “xenophobic hysteria” by Joe Biden. On Feb. 29, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading epidemiologist, said that there was no reason for Americans to change the way they were living.
The country and the world were groping their way forward with a new virus; nobody had the answers and there was nothing for it but to learn from experience. The president’s instincts in shutting direct travel from China and then from most of Europe and urging a lockdown to “flatten the curve” were essentially correct, though perhaps the lock-down could have been less drastic and widespread.
Trump inherited from the previous administration a medical crisis-response system that was completely obsolescent. He invoked emergency legislation and facilitated the development of immediate mass testing and the urgent manufacture of ventilators by companies in other fields, and avoided desperate shortages that were feared.
There was good cooperation with the governors, but a crisis spirit of bipartisan national cooperation was impossible because of the Democrats’ frantic desire to try to snatch the election out of the pandemic, which required politicizing everything. The fatality rate declined by 70 percent; the economy reopened more quickly than had generally been anticipated, particularly by the Democrats who had already become addicted to the argument that a shut down until Nov. 3 (usually described as waiting for a vaccine), was absolutely necessary.
Unemployment, which had been practically eliminated prior to the coronavirus and skyrocketed to over 20 percent, has been reduced by approximately half and appears to be continuing in steep decline. Not all of the jobs lost can be re-filled, but the president sharply reduced the impact of the virus and confined the more depressed economic conditions to approximately three months. It was a capable professional performance.
Whipping Up Panic
At every stage the Democratic Party and its media allies have been doing everything they can to whip up panic about the coronavirus. They even turned the president’s use of hydroxychloroquine into a partisan controversy, though professional scientific evaluation has moved between innocuous and therapeutically useful.
The latest offensive is to hype the fact that the virus is “spreading.” It is indeed spreading in the sense that nearly 50 million tests have revealed that a much larger number of Americans than had been reported had contracted the virus. But 98 percent of people who contract it recover from it, over 90 percent with no or minimal symptoms, and 80 percent of those who do not are in the 20 percent of the population that are over 70 or have otherwise compromised immunities.
Indicative of the airtight determination of the Democrats to frighten the nation with the increased number of afflicted people, was the fact that Chris Wallace of Fox News, who appears to be a Trump skeptic but behaves professionally, in his July 19 one-on-one Rose Garden interview with the president had the statistics of COVID-19 cases memorized but no idea of current fatality rates.
Wallace even attempted to upbraid the president for a higher American fatality rate than in Russia or Brazil, as if anyone of sound mind would imagine that either of those countries would be reporting accurately, (Russia because the government lies, and Brazil because it is not well organized to collect accurate figures).
If the COVID-19 story in the United States were handled fairly, it would profoundly encourage the American people that the overwhelming majority of them are in no danger, and it would eliminate concerns about the vulnerability of schoolchildren or other groups.
At some point, here as in other spheres, the media fixation on embarrassing and damaging the president will backfire. Fear still remains in enough quarters to tilt many of the polls, but as the economy recovers and the fatality rates resume their descent, this will become yet another instance of Trump’s enemies crying wolf too often and too pitifully.
The companion effort to represent the election outcome as virtually a foregone conclusion in Biden’s favor will not work either. Most of the polls that are quoted and are used by the aggregators in their averages of the polls involve a non-representative preponderance of Democratic voters, are focused on registered voters rather than those categories of registered voters most likely to vote, and make no effort to revise the echelons of voters polled to allow for Trump’s unusually high appeal to some groups of voters that have not been in the habit of turning up on election day, and the reluctance of many Trump voters to become involved in excessive questioning about why they support their candidate.
There is no evidence that anything is been done to make the polls more accurate than they were four years ago when they were also used as a method to attempt to intimidate and demoralize Trump supporters.
As long as the COVID-19 numbers resume their downward trend after the virus has been contained in Florida and Texas, and as long as the reduction in shutdown-created unemployment continues briskly, the Democrats will be down to the last two months of the campaign looking once again for a knockout strategy to succeed Access Hollywood, Russian collusion, crimes with Ukraine, the coronavirus botch that wasn’t, and the inevitability of a Biden electoral tidal wave.
The president has to raise his game and develop a more focused message on the dangers of implementing the Biden-Sanders strategy, on the Trump achievements of the last four years, and on an imaginative program for the next four years starting with healthcare and infrastructure.
It will be fair to bash Biden’s ethics and to make the most of whatever indictments come from the Durham special investigation, but the voters do not like ridiculing the elderly and the infirm and must be left to draw their own conclusions about which candidate possesses the intellectual and physical stamina required for effective execution of the presidency.
We are down to less than four months and there is no sign that the Democrats have a serious argument or a viable candidate; the national political media may conduct his campaign for him but they’re not on the ballot. With 105 days left, Trump still has the lead, whatever the polls cited by the Democrats and their sympathizers say.
Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and, most recently “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.”
The views expressed herein are solely those of the author. As a nonpartisan public charity, The Epoch Times does not endorse these statements and takes no position on political candidates.
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